How Long Does Skin Tag Removal Take to Heal?

Skin tags are a common skin condition that affects many people. They are small, soft and flesh-colored growths that can appear on various parts of the body, such as the neck, underarms, eyelids and groin area. While these skin growths are harmless and painless, they can be unsightly and cause discomfort or irritation if they rub against clothing or jewelry.

Many people choose to have their skin tags removed for cosmetic reasons or because they find them bothersome. As such, one common question that arises is "How long do skin tags take to heal after removal?"

What to Expect After Skin Tag Removal

  • Pain and Swelling. You may experience some pain, warmth or swelling in the skin after the procedure.
  • Pain Relief. Your doctor may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, to manage any discomfort if needed.
  • Ice Application. Applying an ice bag against the area may also be helpful for pain relief.
  • Soreness and Bruising. Some soreness, swelling or bruising is normal and should not cause much pain.
  • Mild Discomfort. During the initial hours after the procedure, you may experience discomfort or mild pain near the targeted area.
  • Minimal Discomfort During Treatment. Most patients experience very little discomfort during the treatment.

It's always important to follow your healthcare provider's aftercare instructions and reach out to them if you have any concerns about pain or other symptoms after skin tag removal.

How Long Does a Skin Tag Removal Take to Heal?

The following are estimated healing times for the various skin tag removal methods:

Cryotherapy (1-2 Weeks)

Cryotherapy, also known as cryosurgery, is a commonly used method for skin tag removal. This procedure involves the use of liquid nitrogen, a very cold substance, to freeze off the skin tag. The healthcare professional applies the liquid nitrogen directly to the skin tag using a spray or probe, causing the tag to freeze and eventually fall off. This process causes cell death within the skin tag, leading to its removal.

It's a quick procedure, often taking less than a minute. Some discomfort may be felt during the procedure, such as a mild burning or stinging sensation, but it's generally well tolerated. After the treatment, the area may be sore and could form a scab, which should not be picked at to allow for proper healing.

The healing time for this method is usually 1-2 weeks, but it can take up to 3-4 weeks for the scab to fall off completely.

Cauterization (1-2 Weeks)

Cauterization, also known as electrocautery, is a procedure often used for skin tag removal. This technique uses heat to remove the skin tag. During the procedure, an electric current is passed through a wire that becomes superheated. This heated wire is then used to burn off or "cauterize" the skin tag. The heat not only helps in removing the skin tag but also aids in minimizing bleeding by sealing off blood vessels.

It's a quick procedure, usually completed within a few minutes, and is often carried out under local anesthesia to reduce discomfort. After the procedure, a scab forms over the treated area which falls off over time, revealing healthy skin underneath.

The healing time for this method is similar to cryotherapy, with scabbing lasting 1-2 weeks.

Excision (Up to 2 Weeks)

Excision is a common method for skin tag removal, which involves cutting off the skin tag with a scalpel or surgical scissors. During surgery, a local anesthetic is typically applied to numb the area and minimize discomfort. The healthcare provider then uses the scalpel or surgical scissors to carefully remove the skin tag as close to the base as possible. This method ensures the complete removal of the skin tag.

After the skin tag has been removed, a small bandage may be applied to the area to protect it and help stop any minor bleeding. The procedure is usually quick, often taking just a few minutes.

Healing time can take up to 2 weeks but may vary depending on the size and location of the skin tag.

Ligation (1-2 Weeks)

Ligation for skin tag removal is a method that involves cutting off the blood supply to the skin tag, causing it to dry up and fall off. During the procedure, a healthcare professional or the individual themselves ties a thin thread or dental floss around the base of the skin tag as tightly as possible. This action effectively "strangles" the skin tag, stopping blood flow, which leads to the death of the skin tag's tissues.

Over time, usually a few days to a week, the skin tag darkens, shrivels, and eventually falls off. While this method can be slightly uncomfortable, it's generally painless and doesn't require any anesthesia. It's important to ensure the thread remains tight and in place until the skin tag falls off.

This method may take longer to see results, with the skin tag falling off within 1-2 weeks after treatment.

Factors Affecting Skin Tag Removal Healing Time

The healing time for skin tag removal can vary from person to person and depends on several factors. These factors include:

  • Treatment Method. The skin tag removal procedure used can significantly influence the healing time. For example, if the skin tag is cut off, healing usually occurs within a few weeks. With cryotherapy (freezing the skin tag), it typically takes 10-14 days for the skin to heal. Burning skin tags off might take about a week to heal.
  • Location and Severity of the Lesion. The location and size of the skin tag can also affect the healing time. Larger skin tags or those in more sensitive areas may require a longer healing period.
  • Individual Health Status. Your overall health status can impact how quickly your body heals. For instance, people with conditions like diabetes may experience slower wound healing.
  • Aftercare. Proper aftercare is crucial for quick and effective healing. This includes protecting the area from sun exposure, and avoiding certain skincare products like glycolic acids, Vitamin C, scrubs, Tretinoin (Retin-A) and Retinol until the area has re-pigmented.
  • Possible Complications. In rare cases, complications such as neuromas (nerve growths) can occur, resulting in chronic pain and possibly extending the healing time.

Tips for Promoting Healing and Preventing Infection

To speed up the healing process and prevent infection, consider taking the following measures:

  • Gentle Cleaning. Wash the area gently once or twice a day using a mild soap and cool water. Pat the area dry with a clean paper towel.
  • Antibiotic Ointment. Apply an antibiotic ointment to reduce the risks of an infection forming. However, some studies suggest that petroleum jelly can be just as effective for non-infected wounds.
  • Avoid Picking at Scabs. Allow any scabs to fall off naturally. This helps prevent scarring and reduces the risk of infection.
  • Avoid Harsh Skincare Products. Stay away from products with alcohol or other harsh ingredients that could irritate the healing skin.
  • Avoid Touching or Scratching. Refrain from touching or scratching the treated area. This can prevent irritation and reduce the risk of infection.
  • Maintain Good Hygiene. Keep the skin clean and dry, as moisture and sweat can contribute to skin tag development.
  • Use Antiseptic Cream. You may use an antiseptic cream recommended by your doctor to help reduce the risk of infection until the area is fully healed.

FAQs About Skin Tag Removal

What does the skin look like after skin tag removal?

After skin tag removal, the treated area may initially appear red and a blister often forms within a few hours of the procedure. The blister may appear clear or have a red or purple color. Over the following days, the treatment area will likely scab over and will eventually fall off naturally, revealing new skin underneath. This new skin is often pink but is not scarring and will gradually return to a normal skin tone.

It's crucial to keep the area clean to prevent infection and avoid using hydrogen peroxide unless otherwise directed by your doctor. The skin surrounding the treatment area may also experience some irritation.

Can I go back to my normal activities right after skin tag removal?

Yes, you can typically return to your normal activities immediately after skin tag removal. The procedure is quick and minimally invasive, often not requiring any downtime. However, it's important to take care of the treated area to prevent infection and promote healing. This includes keeping the area clean, avoiding picking at scabs and following any specific aftercare instructions provided by your healthcare professional.

Some mild discomfort or irritation may occur, but it should not significantly impact your daily activities. If you experience severe pain, excessive bleeding or signs of infection such as increased redness, swelling or pus, contact your healthcare provider.

Can you shower after skin tag removal?

Yes, you can shower after skin tag removal, but there are some precautions to take. It's generally recommended to wait 24 to 48 hours before washing the treated area. When you shower, gently clean the area with cool water and mild soap, then pat dry with a clean paper towel. Avoid using harsh cleansers, alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, as these can slow healing. If you've had cryotherapy for skin tag removal, avoid swimming or hot tub use for one week following treatment or while the skin is open.

Can I remove skin tags without going to the doctor?

It's possible to remove skin tags without going to the doctor using various home remedies, like apple cider vinegar and tea tree oil. However, there is no scientific evidence of their effectiveness. You may also use over-the-counter skin tag treatments but you must read and follow the instructions carefully. Some of these treatments may cause skin irritation or scarring if not used correctly.

Avoid Risks and Remove Your Skin Tags Quickly by an Experienced Board-Certified Plastic Surgeon

While skin tag removal may seem like a simple procedure, it's crucial to seek the advice of an experienced skin doctor for safe and effective treatment. Attempting to remove skin tags at home or using unproven methods can lead to scarring, infection and other potential complications.

Here at The Minor Surgery Center (TMSC), we specialize in performing minor surgeries involving skin tags, cysts, moles and other common skin issues. Our doctors are all board-certified plastic surgeons with extensive experience in these procedures. We use advanced techniques and technology to ensure minimal scarring and rapid healing for our patients. Sometimes, we can even perform your surgery on the day of your initial consultation, as some conditions don't need a referral.

If you're considering removing a skin tag or have any questions about the procedure, call us now to schedule your appointment!

April 3, 2024